Blake Bortles is the finest quarterback to come through the doors of the University of Central Florida since Daunte Culpepper took the NFL by storm. Like Culpepper, Bortles boasts a cannon for an arm, and the size (6’4″, 230) to match, but also posesses that rarer and rarer intangible of being just as comfortable out of the gun as he is setting up under center. Blake has had now two years of solid starting time under his belt. In 2012, he threw for 3,059 yards on 399 attempts (62.9% completions) with 25 touchdowns to only 7 interceptions. This began to get him onto the radar of NFL scouts. Bortles’ 2013, not only allowed him to reaffirm that his previous season was not a fluke (259/382, 3,581 yards, 25 TD to 9 INT), but he was able to demonstrate grit and leadership, leading the Knights to an upset victory over the Baylor Bears, 52-42. During the game Blake was 20/31 for 301 yards and 3 TDs, but more importantly, he also ran for 93 yards on 8 carries and a TD, snaring Fiesta Bowl MVP Honors.
Bortles declared for the 2014 NFL Draft after the season concluded. As Houston Texans’ new head coach Bill O’Brien had a need at quarterback, the team has been continuously linked to possibly drafting Bortles near the top of the draft. In fact during Bortles 2014 run, his team beat O’Brien’s Penn State team, and on top of that he fits the mold of the type of quarterback that O’Brien likes to groom. After finding no trading partners, the Texans in the end took the best available talent at #1 with Jadeveon Clowney. Blake went #4 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars where he hopes to change the fortunes of the franchise.
After acquiring a box of the Leaf 2014 draft cards and then seeing recent successes pour through from Bortles’ reputed home address, I took it as a sign and sent the card out. I was pumped to receive this autographed in under 10 days, but I suspect that as the starting pressure and fame mounts for young Bortles this may soon change.